By Naomi B., 8th grade,
South Loop’s very own 6th grade Language Arts teacher Mr. Rocha has won the University of Illinois at Chicago Rising Scholar award of 2019. He will be receiving the award April 26 in a Gala being held at Bridgeport Art Center.
The rising scholar award is about positively impacting the lives of others through service leadership and scholarship.
Nominated by Kim Lawless a Ph.D. associate dean for research in the College of Education at UIC, Mr. Rocha expressed how surprised and humbled he felt.
He is appreciative and thankful to everyone in the South Loop community who supported him by voting including parents, colleges, peers, and students.
“I wanted to teach because of a former teacher I had in my junior year of high school,” said Mr. Rocha. “She taught AP Language and Composition and her name was Ms. Ogarek. She had wit, insight and showed all her students what it meant to be human. She passed away not long after I had her, but her impact stayed with me. She is a large reason as to why I decided to teach, and I hope to honor her memory in my own classroom with my own students.”
He added, “I also can’t help but thank my mentor teacher (during student teaching year and still to this day), Mr. Coppola, who continues to guide me and support me in ways I will always be grateful for.”
Mr. Coppola, said about his win, “It’s been a really rewarding experience for me to work with Mr. Rocha, to train him and learn with him as well. From his first day in my classroom, I knew he was meant to be a teacher…I’m excited for this acknowledgment for him and what his future holds.”